About 6 months ago my wife decided it would be a good idea to use some of her frequent flier mileage to fly on Delta from Spokane to her parents’ place in Houston. When she booked the trip in May with Delta, the itinerary looked normal, Spokane to Salt Lake City, then on to Houston. But coming back, it said it was a Continental flight from Houston to Seattle, and an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Spokane. We figured it was because it was a mileage flight. She picked an itinerary that gave 1-2 hours layover between flights as we normally do.
The flight down to Houston was no problem at all. Coming back was a different story. First, she had to check in with Delta, then Continental, and give her bags to Continental. Ok, minor inconvenience, she had plenty of time. But when she got to Seattle, the Continental gate agent said she would have to go down to baggage claim, get her bag, check in with Alaska Air, go through security again, and all this in one hour on the nose from when the Continental flight landed in Seattle. Apparently Continental doesn’t play nice with Alaska, but Delta and Alaska and Delta and Continental do, which obviously is why the ticket was issued as such from Delta.
Now, I always was under the impression that checked bags were transferred from plane to plane no matter what airlines you flew on, that the transfer of the bags was basically an independent function of each airport (the obvious exception often being international travel), but apparently we have both learned that this is not the case.
Of course it took forever to get her bags, and by the time she was ready to check in with Alaska, it was already too late. Thankfully she was able to get booked on the next flight to Spokane 3 hours later.
I place some fault with Delta for not disclosing that this would be an issue when booking the ticket. We will still continue to fly with Delta, but will be more careful as to what airline carry our flights, esecially when booking award travel when the airline selections are much wider.